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‘Held Up’ Crackle Series Review

A bank teller’s dream of excitment comes true when his branch is robbed simultaneously by two pairs of inept thieves.

'Held Up' Crackle Series Review

‘Held Up’

Writers: Jason Sklar & Randy Sklar

Director: Steve Carr

Premise:

A disgruntled bank teller named Ray (Jon Dore) finally gets his wish for some excitement when the branch is held up by two teams of robbers, which leads to an extended siege as Ray pursues a romantic relationship with one of his captors.

Story:

One day at the Village People’s Bank, Ray begins narrating about his vast disappointment with his life into voice recorder, much to the annoyance of his customers and his boss, Jan (Suzy Nakamura). Suddenly, two robbers enter the bank with guns drawn, both wearing Sylvester Stallone Rocky masks. Rocky 1 (Cyrus Farmer) is clearly the leader, while Rocky 2 (Kaitlin Olson) is a very efficient female robber. They nearly make it out of the bank before a pair of brothers in home made Batman ( Jason Sklar) and Robin (Randy Sklar) costumes step in and also attempt to rob the bank. While the assembled thieves argue over who will take the cash, the cops pull up in the parking lot.

Deciding to join forces to stay out of jail, the Rockies and the Dynamic Duo decide to work together to secure the hostages and lock the bank doors. When Rocky 2 takes off her mask, Ray is instantly smitten with her. He tries to woo her with his incredibly unfunny comedic material. She says that he has a "gay Ellen" vibe and that she has already seen him perform and isn’t impressed. Meanwhile Batman and Robin argue with a customer about the accuracy of their costumes. As the siege stretches into days, Ray continues to try to woo Rocky 2 with no positive results at all. However, when Rocky 1 and Rocky 2 finally expose a wedge in their relationship, Ray takes the opportunity to comfort Rocky 2 and successfully seduces her.

Although Ray turns out to be a terrible lover, Rocky 2 starts to warm to him. Meanwhile, Jan decides to seduce Robin, which doesn’t work initially. When Batman and Robin switch costumes, Jan finally gets her man. Meanwhile, Jan’s fat boyfriend Phil (Sean Tillman) is apparently in on the plan with Rocky 1, a fact which she seems to be oblivious too. On the eighth day of the siege, a fight between Ray and Rocky 1 is interrupted by a Douche Bag Businessman (Nick Kroll), who enters the bank talking on his cellphone without even realizing that there’s a siege before leaving again.

With everyone pissed off at the Douche Bag, Ray suggests a new plan in which the money will be stolen from the Douche Bag’s account and the bank robbers can sneak out the front with the hostages and everyone gets what they want. As part of the plan, Rockey 1 hides in the dumpster behind the bank, but Rocky 2 ends up double-crossing him in favor of staying with Ray. They leave together on relatively happy terms until Ray starts doing his comedy again.

Breakdown:

Jon Dore deserves a lot of credit for his performance in "Held Up." He’s able to make Ray funny even when he’s delivering some of the most horrible stand-up comedy I’ve ever heard. But Kaitlin Olson (from "It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia") is probably the best known performer in this piece and she gets the most out of her scenes with Dore. The Sklar brothers also get a lot of hilarious exchanges with each other, which seemed to be more improvised than scripted.

The Skylar brothers and Dore don’t actually interact regularly in the film, but there is an amusing training sequence in which Ray teaches Batman how to use a public toilet. The Homeless Man and his interpreter also had a few good moments. Cyrus Farmer is great as the primary villain, Rocky 1 and his argument with Rocky 2 about keeping her from being reduced to hooking was pretty funny, as was her reply that she’s thanked him enough for that already.

There’s a lot here that works. But there were still a lot of moments that just felt unpolished or didn’t work at all. If this film had been edited down more, it could have been tighter. There are also a few weak links in the cast. Suzy Nakamura was particularly poor as Jan. So much so, that I actually assumed that this was her first acting role. And apparently it’s not: she’s been in over sixty films and TV series. 

As for the director, Steve Carr also helmed "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" and several other films. Which is why I was surprised that "Held Up" really came off as a low budget production. There was nothing about the way that "Held Up" was shot that suggested anyone behind the camera had any experience at all. I’ve seen other Crackle originals like "Angel of Death" and "The Bannen Way;" both of which were top notch productions that could actually pass for reasonably budgeted feature films. "Held Up" looks like a web series and it doesn’t seem to have the production value of the earlier Crackle shows.

Ultimately what "Held Up" really needed was at least another rewrite or two, along with more time, more editing and better video equipment. I really feel that this could have worked on a much grander scale, possibly even as a real theatrical movie if the time and money had been put into it. As a web series, it’s loaded with talent and head and shoulders above most of the competition.

But it could have been so much better…

Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.